Rupert Pupkin Speaks: The FUTURIST!'s Favorite Films 1st seen in 2011! ""

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The FUTURIST!'s Favorite Films 1st seen in 2011!

Read The Futurist! on Twitter and Tumblr. Do it.

Okay, here we go ...
Picked a Baker's Dozen with two entries comprising of double films that were all viewed in THE FUTURIST!'s small, intimate THIMBLE THEATER in Utter Despair NJ ... presented on an Epson portable DVD projector (though positioned in a stationary position) hooked to 5.1 surround sound. - ______________________________________________________

Alphabetical Order:
AIRPORT (1970)
The first film THE FUTURIST! saw in 2011. A multiple Oscar nominee in 1970. This could be (arguably) the first big star cast disaster picture ... snowstorm at an big city sized airport causing delays and possible landing problems plus someone carrying a bomb on a flight. THE FUTURIST! found this big bloated soap opera to be so entertaining and quite suspenseful. It featured a stellar cast of Hollywood pros including a constantly winter coated Burt Lancaster, a jittery Maureen Stapleton, a bewitching Jacqueline Bisset, a seemingly sober Dean Martin and Helen Hayes in the cliche of all cliche little old lady roles ... complete with little feathered pill box hat.

Stanley Donen dabbled in Hitchcockian thrillers and this is his second creation after CHARADE. The stolid Gregory Peck plays a professor of ancient artifacts who is coerced into deciphering a Middle Eastern hieroglyphic which involves him with Arab politics, murder, a eye ball munching hawk, and the beautiful mysterious Sophia Loren. A plot full of twists and turns and strange camera angles. A drinking game can be created each time you see a shot involving a glass or mirrored reflection.

This could be one of the most delightful first viewing finds of 2011. Ginger Rogers stars as a working girl trying to pay the bills who is employed at a huge Department Store in Manhattan at Christmas time. Through various plot complications, she is encumbered by the care of a baby that is not her own ... but who everyone thinks is her own. David Niven was the greatest surprise in this film ... so dapper, so natural, and with a wonderful comic style. Rogers and Niven ... a great screwball comedy team. Who would have thought?

THE FUTURIST! started a William Freidkin Freakout Film Festival in 2011. He decided to watch as many Freidkin directed films that were available from NetFlix or in his own possession. He saw a lot of films that he hadn't seen before and others he watched for the 2nd time. A friend mentioned that Freidkin's films are never really discussed or shown in festivals. This filmed adaptation of Matt Crowley's controversial play was dated and over the top at times, but it is intense, suspenseful and well-acted. He takes a confined space (an apartment in Manhattan) and makes it feel not as stagy as you would imagine. It concerns a gathering of homosexual friends to celebrate the birthday party of another friend. It's full of self-loathing, which is a major criticism about the material, but the pain and performances and insight into friendship are worth the view. Also, THE FUTURIST! loves films showing Manhattan in the 60s and 70s.

Carol Reed's adaptation of a Graham Greene story is beautiful. Photographed in glorious black & white and contains foreshadowing of Reed's THE THIRD MAN camera angles. This film has some of the best acting THE FUTURIST! has ever seen by its cast, especially the young boy who misunderstands what he sees and inadvertently puts his Father's servant (played by Ralph Richardson) into a situation of dire consequences. A must see.

JEWEL ROBBERY (1932) and FASHIONS OF 1934 (1934)
This is a double entry featuring the same director - William Dieterle - and the same male lead - William Powell. Pre-Code Hollywood films hold many delights including snappy innuendo laden dialogue, liberal use of pleasurable past time partakings (drugs and alcohol) and overly implied sexual situations. JEWEL ROBBERY features a dapper gem thief and his gang who are looting Paris jewelry stores and their patrons of their valuables. In order to get what he needs (vault combinations and cooperation of memory loss) Powell's character forces a "funny cigarette" on his victims to achieve his goals.
FASHIONS OF 1934 has to be one the most delightful fun pictures THE FUTURIST! saw this past year. Powell again stars as a con man who is ripping off the fashion house snobs with knock-off creations. It's hard to fully describe this film soup of silly ingredients. The director and writers stir in screwball comedy, ostrich feathers, a French egomaniac, a fake princess from Hoboken, NJ, a Busby Berkeley production number and the unbelievable sight of beautiful female human harps. This should be a cult classic.

After Peter Yates died last January, THE FUTURIST! decided to watch some of his films that he never seen. Included were MURPHY'S WAR and FOR PETE'S SAKE. But the greatest surprise was this Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow starring piece. It is simply the story of a young couple who meet in a Manhattan bar and go back to his apartment for a one night stand. The film is fragmented to show the past ... his prior relationship and her past mistakes. It moves back and forth from past and present. It is an amazing film that seems so modern for its time of release. Hoffman is so good. Quiet and understated, but full of his sense of the character of John, a very ordered professional young man.

Bonita Granville starred in a four B-films from Warner Brothers portraying the girl detective of the long running young adult book series. THE FUTURIST! has not yet watched the other entries, but found the first in the series to be very enjoyable. Nancy Drew is truly annoying. She butts into everyone's business to solve a mystery in her small Hollywood suburban community. She frantically rushes about on foot and in her jalopy to investigate causing consternation to her lawyer father played by John Litel. Best of all are the predicaments she places her "boyfriend" Ted into as he reluctantly assists her in her crime solving. THE FUTURIST! especially enjoyed when Nancy makes Ted get into drag portraying a female nurse. Classic.

Another Carol Reed film. Adventure, espionage, comedy and suspense are blended in this WWII game of cat and mouse. It stars Rex Harrison who is becoming one of THE FUTURIST!'s favorite actors. He is always so natural, so at ease. It includes a sequence involving death defying hijinx on a cable car. Not as thrilling as WHERE EAGLES DARE, as far as cable car hijinx go, but still damn good.

William Powell and Kay Francis star in this truly heart wrenching Pre-Code romance. Two people meet on an ocean cruise and fall in love. She is dying from a fatal Hollywood malady and he is on his way (accompanied by a police detective) to his execution for a murder he committed (in self-defense). It is directed by Tay Garnett.

THE PRIZE (1963)
Ernest Lehman written (the man who wrote NORTH BY NORTHWEST) thriller starring Paul Newman, Elke Sommer and Edward G. Robinson. Womanizing, drunken American author played by Newman receives an invite to the Nobel Prize ceremony in Europe to be honored with an award. While there, the cynical Newman becomes involved in espionage, mistaken identity and murder. This movie was great fun.

PULP (1972)
A writer of tawdry noir-like paperback books is hired to ghost write the life of a dying gangster on a remote island. The writer is Michael Caine and the gangster is Mickey Rooney. The book may reveal details that could embarrass or infuriate others. This causes great problems involving murder and romance. A truly odd film that is hard to describe, but a great find.

THE FUTURIST! has been watching EVERY Bob Hope film, in chronological order) he get his hands on. He had read many years ago that Woody Allen loved Hope and based a lot of his early comedy persona on Hope. Early Hope is the best. The viewing of these films is taking some time. In 2011, THE FUTURIST! had entered the 50s period of Hope and found two gems. SON OF PALEFACE is directed by the Frank Tashlin in a pure live action cartoon style. It is a sequel to THE PALEFACE, but is one of those rare sequels that surpasses its predecessor. You haven't seen comedy until you've seen Hope trying to sleep in a bed wit Roy Roger's horse Trigger.
CASANOVA'S BIG NIGHT is a costume comedy set in 18th century Venice. Hope assumes the identity of The Great Lover Cassanova and must face off with a duplicitous Basil Rathbone, a feisty funny Joan Fontaine and court intrigue involving certain death by the conniving Doge of Venice. This film is beautifully costumed and set directed and funny as funny can get. Great sword fight conclusion. You can definitely see Hope's influence on Woody Allen's character in LOVE AND DEATH in this film.


Scott M said...

Great picks!

Both the Prize and Pulp have been added to my 'must track down' list!

Robert M. Lindsey said...

This list looks most like movies I love or would love to see so far in this grand undertaking. I've added a few to my queue out of here. Thanks.

Justin Bozung said...

John & Mary is WONDERFUL....Also if you're a fan of THE BOYS IN THE should check out the new feature length documentary that just came out to DVD this last year, THE MAKING OF THE BOYS..It's very good.

Ned Merrill said...

Been meaning to see Friedkin's BOYS IN THE BAND, based on Mart Crowley's play for some time now...thanks for the reminder!

MrJeffery said...

'airport'! great list.